by Pat Walsh
Scholastic (Chicken House), 2010. 326 pgs.
The good news is that The Crowfield Curse is a rich, deeply felt medieval fantasy (think Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series, only for youngsters). The bad news is, this book is the first in a series, the next volume coming out later than we want it to. Will is a servant at the Crowfield Abbey where he has lived since the rest of his family were killed when their home and mill burned down. Gathering wood in the forest, he hears a creature in distress--a hob, whom he takes to the abbey to be nursed back to health. And that is only the beginning of Will's encounters with witches, wizards, fay creatures--even an angel. When a leper and his servant come to the abbey for a brief stay, Will is drawn into a hunt for an angel's grave, where the leprous man hopes to find something that will release him from mortality. The dark king of the forest and his dreadful minions want something else entirely and Will becomes the unwitting focal point of a battle between good and very evil. Exciting, atmospheric, a tad bit scary, The Crowfield Curse is fine reading for the Solstice. By the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. Don't spill.